Advent calendars 2023: Best ones to countdown the holiday season

With more and more brands getting in on it, there is something for everyone who wants to open a present a day until Christmas

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It’s that time of year again. 

Not Gilmore Girls season, not Halloween, not football season or Eras tour season. It’s advent calendar time. This season now unofficially starts around Canadian Thanksgiving, with brands releasing new offers from now till Dec. 1. Social media, mainly TikTok, is already full of unboxing posts for the more sought-after calendars, mostly from beauty brands like Sephora and Mac Cosmetics.

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What once started as a simple way to mark the days leading up to Christmas Day has now become a booming business.

Advent calendars have been around for more than a century and have recently evolved from hiding chocolates behind their numbered doors to featuring beauty products, toys, clothes, food, jewellery and more.

Prices can range from low-end of less than $15 for a Lindt chocolate advent calendar to upward of $1,000 for a calendar from high-end brands such as Dior. Shoppers flock to these limited offerings from the brands they love hoping that the products inside are exclusive and exciting but also are a good deal, outweighing the dollar value spent on the advent calendar itself. But that’s not always the case. 

In 2021, Chanel decided to release its first advent calendar and was roasted on social media when TikToks of people unboxing the calendars went viral. The videos showed items like stickers, an empty dustbag, a keychain and some mini beauty products being unboxed all for a price tag of more than $1,000. 

This year’s buzz is all about Pandora. The jewellery brand is releasing its first-ever advent calendar a 12-day box filled with festive charms, bracelets and necklaces. Retailing for around $586 CDN, the value is purportedly more than $900. Unfortunately, this experience is limited to the U.K. only, so Canadians will have to get creative to get their hands on it or watch it on TikTok.

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What Canadians can count on are what have become traditional releases from companies like Sephora and David’s Tea, which this year’s calendar of teas contains exclusive flavours like Peanut Butter Brownie, Tinsel Toddy, Sugar Pear Fairy, and Glitter & Gold. In addition, David’s Tea has released a brand new calendar, the 24 Trips with Tea (more on that below).

There is clearly something for everyone who wants to open a present a day in December.

Some calendars run for 24 days while others are 12 or even six. We’ve assembled a list of some of those best calendars to suit a range of personas to either treat yourself or someone in your life.

For kids

LEGO Marvel Avengers 2023
LEGO Marvel Avengers 2023. Photo by Amazon

Lego has been producing advent calendars for a while now and has five sets in its 2023 collection. What’s great about these sets is that each door contains a Lego piece to assemble every day. Just follow the directions on the door to see if it’s a character, a spaceship or an accessory.

Lego fans, old and young, will love the uniqueness of some of the pieces that are customized for the holidays. Great for collecting. And the box itself doubles as a backdrop to set the perfect holiday scene to play with all these new pieces.

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National Geographic Gemstone Advent Calendar ($39.99)

Educational advent calendars can be a big hit with parents and kids alike. This calendar contains a gem a day from Dec. 1-24 that includes agate, green aventurine, hematite, sodalite, turquenite, tiger’s eye, and more. The final day is a crystal hidden in a brick to dig out. It also includes a magnifying glass and a pouch to store the pieces. (Pro tip: it’s worth buying a storage container case with individual dividers to collect and display these small items.)

National Geographic Advent Calendar.
National Geographic Advent Calendar. Photo by Amazon

Fidget Christmas Countdown Advent Calendar ($49.99)

Fidget toys are still having a moment, and there are so many options to choose from but this one from HANLAYYDS is an Amazon bestseller. The calendar included pop bubbles, squeeze toys, stretchy straws, a spinner, puzzle cube and more. Best of all, these toys are relatively quiet when played with and can keep kids entertained for hours.

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Barbie Cutie Reveal Advent Calendar ($54.99)

Indigo has a slew of advent calendars to appeal to a variety of interests and suitable for kids as well as collectors and avid puzzlers. Some of the brands are Disney, Pokemon, Funko, Barbie, Fisher-Price and more.

Here are some highlights:
Pokemon Holiday Calendar ($59.99)
Polly Pocket Advent Calendar ($29.99)
Holiday Cats Advent Calendar Puzzle Set ($44.99)
Funko Advent Calendar, Classic Disney ($69.99)

For beauty lovers

Sephora Collection Wishing You Advent Calendar ($66)

This advent calendar is jam-packed with Sephora-brand favourites with a retail value of $124. The collection includes a range of masks to soothe and cleanse all parts of your face, multiple body washes, eyeshadows, nail polishes and even a pocket mirror.

For self-care enthusiasts

The Body Shop Advent of Change Calendars

The Body Shop has not one but three advent calendars:

The Advent of Change $95 ($181 in value)
The Big Advent of Change $140 ($223 in value)
The Ultimate Advent of Change $215 ($347 in value)

All three feature a variety of creams, soaps, balms, gels, masks, toners, shampoos and conditioners. But the Big and Ultimate packages have 25 products (The Advent of Change has 24) and the product sizes are larger, scaling from lowest (Advent of Change) to highest (Ultimate).

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24 Days of Tea Advent Calendar ($55) and 24 Trips with Tea Advent Calendar ($55)

24 days of tea advent calendar
24 days of tea advent calendar. Photo by David’s Tea

What better way to enjoy a fragrant bath using Advent of Change creams than with a great cup of tea? Canadian specialty tea shop David’s Tea has been leading the way for years when it comes to holiday tea calendars. Its festive staple, 24 Days of Tea Advent Calendar, features 24 different blends, all double portions and ranging from best-sellers to seasonal blends. The Peanut Butter Brownie and Tinsel Toddy flavours have only been available through this calendar.

New for 2023 is 24 Trips with Tea, which is designed to guide the tea drinker around the world each day with flavours like Nepal White, Saigon White and Brazilian Mate that evoke scents from far-off places. There is also a brand new tea, Merry Breakfast Blend, which is exclusive to 24 Trips Of Tea.

12 Days of Socks – For Her ($65) and For Him ($65)

You’ve had your bath, relaxing in the suds while breathing in scents of Mistletoe and sipping on Forever Frosty tea. Now it’s time to get out and get cozy. Gertex Hosiery and Accessories is a Canadian company, founded in 1958, that specializes in fashion, beauty and lifestyle. It’s a collection of 12-day Holiday Sock Calendar that includes options for women, men and children. Each sock set is a new holiday-themed design made of 98 per cent Spandex. 

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For the sweet tooth

Lindt Chocolate Advent Calendars ($9.99 to $40)

There is something for everyone in the Lindt Chocolate calendars. Ranging in price, these calendars are affordable and offer quality chocolate from the master chocolatiers. For the younger set, the festive boxes of milk chocolate with winter scenes of Santa and reindeer always do the trick. For those with a more sophisticated pallet and refined tastes, a more subdued holiday box of gold or red with snowflakes, with dark chocolates hidden within is always a crowd-pleaser.

Lindt Kids Christmas Assorted Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar $13.48
Lindt Bear Advent Calendar $36.60

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